Jeff Schultz blog 

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Will a fresh perspective elude Braves?

  • 11:44 am Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
John Schuerholz got his man (John Hart), just not as GM. (Curtis Compton)

It was clear to anybody who spoke to John Hart on the day the Braves fired general manager Frank Wren that he did not want the job. When a baseball executive gets to be of a certain age, they learn to embrace the schedule and minimal responsibility that accompanies the semi-retirement jobs of consultant and television analyst.

“The difference now is when you step off the (television) set, you can put the problems that you’ve been discussing aside,” Hart told me when asked about the possibility of becoming a general manager again. “That’s part of the fun of it. It also [More]

Braves’ new GM should’ve decided on Gonzalez

  • 12:29 pm Friday, October 3rd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Fredi Gonzalez watched the Braves spiral down the stretch again. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

There were reasonable arguments to keep Fredi Gonzalez as the Braves’ manager. There were reasonable arguments to fire Fredi Gonzalez as the Braves’ manager.

But there was no reasonable argument to do what the Braves did Friday.

Interim general manager John Hart announced Gonzalez will return for a fifth season in 2015, despite the Braves going 7-18 in September, missing the playoffs for the second time in four years and finishing with the franchise’s worst record since 2008 (79-83).

I was neither in the “Fire Fredi” nor “Don’t Fire Fredi” camp.  I merely believed the Braves should wait and leave that decision [More]

Are Braves waiting for Dayton Moore?

  • 10:50 am Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dayton Moore's Royals begin play in the American League division series tonight.
(John Sleezer/Kansas City Star)

If the Kansas City Royals had lost their wild card elimination game to Oakland, we might have a little more clarity about the Braves’ general manager’s opening today. Why? The Braves are believed to have some interest in Royals GM Dayton Moore, who worked his way up through the Braves system, and would have made the, “Can we talk now?” phone call soon after Tuesday night’s game.

But now they’ll have to wait a little longer to gauge Moore’s interest. The Royals open play in the American League divisional series tonight against the Los Angeles Angels. (For the record, Moore has [More]

Braves’ Hart is open to mentoring GM role

  • 2:18 pm Thursday, September 25th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Braves interim GM John Hart acknowledged he's open to mentoring a young general manager. (AP photo)

Since the moment the Braves fired general manager Frank Wren, there has been speculation that the team would elevate senior adviser John Hart to the role, if not on a permanent basis then at least as a mentor to young rising assistant. Hart has mostly been evasive or issued non-denial denials with his comments, other than to say he wouldn’t pursue the GM’s position on a long-term basis.

That changed a little Thursday.

Hart, the team’s interim general manager, acknowledged that he and team president John Schuerholz have had conversations about him taking the job on a short-term basis if a young [More]

Braves’ opponents often celebrate here

  • 9:51 am Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Freddie Freeman and Braves have had reason to be angry, and another may be coming tonight. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

UPDATE: Here’s a link to tonight’s MyAJC column, addressing how much responsibility manager Fredi Gonzalez shares for this season.

The Braves have been dead in the National League East for a while. But adding an element of humiliation to the recent free fall is that Washington, which is on the verge of clinching the division title, can celebrate at Turner Field with a win tonight or Wednesday.

It wouldn’t be the first time the Braves have seen another team celebrate on its home field (either Turner or Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium). Since 1992, the Braves have lost postseason elimination games at [More]

Braves find a groove — but so do Nationals

  • 9:21 am Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Braves have won five straight but remain six games behind Washington. (AP photo)

Six days ago, on the eve of the Braves’ “Zombie Night” promotion at Turner Field, I wrote a column on the Braves’ seeming march into the regular season afterlife and the reasons manager Fredi Gonzalez needed to bench the struggling B.J Upton. At that point, they had lost 12 of 15 games and 17 of 26 since the All-Star break.

A follow-up blog and cartoon posed the question to you, “Is the fat lady singing” on their season?” Most readers believed yes. I certainly believed yes. When it comes to the division race, I still think yes. But it [More]

With Braves six back, is ‘fat lady’ singing?

  • 8:39 am Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
BravesfatLadyJeff

So is it over?

The Braves lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 Thursday. If you missed the almost-too-perfect inglorious ending, here’s a free link to my column on the game.

In brief, Justin Upton had to leave the game with a strained hamstring. His lesser brother B.J., who had been benched from the starting lineup because he’s hitting .209, was sent in as a pinch runner. He stayed in the game, and, of course, wound up being the key at-bat in the ninth inning. With runners on second and third base, B.J., batting in Justin’s spot, struck out.

The strikeout numbers [More]

Braves’ crowds reflect lack of confidence

  • 9:00 am Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dodgers at Braves

As the Braves begin to slide out of the playoff race — or at least show no sign of having interest in it — they also are sliding off the radar in Atlanta.

Crowds for the first two games of the weekend series against Washington last week drew over 30,000 but the Sunday night game saw only 18,191 in the stadium. I realize it was the night before the first day of school for many kids, but for a late-summer weekend series against the Nationals with first place on the line, the numbers were disappointing. It also was stunning that the [More]

Poll: Who’s most to blame for Braves’ fall?

  • 9:19 am Thursday, August 7th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners

The Braves are back home after an eight-game road trip. There will be no parade today.

They lost all eight games — swept in consecutive series in Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle. It’s the first time something like that has happened since the 1949 Boston Braves went 0-8 on a trip. That’s so long ago that, as historian David O’Brien noted, Warren Spahn was in the starting rotation.

More miserable numbers: The Braves scored only 18 runs in the eight games (three of which went extra innings) for an average of 2.25 runs per game. They also are 6-13 since [More]

Trade deadline day … and it’s quiet here (update: minor trade)

  • 9:01 am Thursday, July 31st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Trying to picture David Price in a Braves' uniform? Don't waste your time. (AP)

UPDATE: As you probably know by now, the Braves made a minor trade, dealing catching prospect Victor Caratini to the Chicago Cubs for utilityman Emilio Bonifacio and left-handed reliever James Russell. It was exactly the kind of deal that general manager Frank Wren was expected to make, but I’m not sure it’s going to be enough to get the Braves to the postseason because of fundamental flaws on the roster and in the clubhouse. I wrote a full column on this topic over at MyAJC.com. Here’s a free link. Thanks, J

Good morning. The major league trade deadline is at [More]